Day 16 – Sault Ste. Marie to Parry Sound, ON

Route map

Distance = 462 km        Gas = $37.05 ($1.40/L in Massey, ON)

South of Sault Ste. Marie is pretty cottage country along the top of Lake Huron, till you get to Sudbury, then the highway becomes more like an interstate again. The little towns between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury are quaint, each with a population of no more than about 1,000 people. There are evidently some Amish or Mennonite folk in the area, too, since there were several signs warning of horse and carriage on the highway. True enough, I saw at least eight parties travelling in this style and dressed all in black, the women with bonnets and the men with straw hats. Definitely not something you see in Vancouver.

This morning I slept in and left the motel at 10:30 a.m. after a continental breakfast (Cheerios and cold French Toast), and headed down to Parry Sound, where my uncle and his partner have their cottage. The drive was a lot better than yesterday. I’d had a better sleep, it was another beautiful day, the scenery was varied and it was a shorter trip – about five hours, rather than eight. Besides the Amish, I also saw some incredibly old homesteads built in the mid-nineteenth century that are still sitting at the side of the now busy highway. There were also a lot of stunningly beautiful coves where people have little homes next to docks on water as still as glass.

From Sudbury south, all along the Canadian shield, which is solid granite, the highway had to be carved out with dynamite. So on each side there is what appears to be a neat cliff face for much of the way. Along the top of the granite, there are hundreds of inukshuk that people have built over time. Most of the them are only about half a foot tall, but they’re all obviously made by delicately balancing each piece of rock on top of the next, and some of them are in precarious places above the highway. I don’t know who would have taken the time to build these, sometimes in the middle of nowhere, but I think it’s pretty cool that they do.

Travel tip: use a GPS unit once you get to Ontario. Everywhere west of here is stupidly straightforward, but in this province the signs and directions aren’t quite as clear.

I’m happy to have my iPhone with me because it reads out driving directions, and twice I took a wrong turn – first when I got near Sudbury and then again when I was heading out of Sudbury. I probably would have been halfway to North Bay if I hadn’t turned on the GPS app.

NEXT POST: Parry Sound to Toronto


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